Startup@Brown: A review

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With all the well-deserved hype around the events of this weekend’s Better World by Design, now in its eighth year, it was easy for many students to forget about the newcomer to the already-ample lineup of fall conferences at Brown: Startup@Brown. Organized and run by Hack@Brown (Valentin Perez ’18 is lead organizer for both) and the Brown Entrepaneurship Program, Startup@Brown was a weekend-long conference in Alumnae Hall and Smitty B focused on connecting students with startups. Through a series of speeches, fairs, office hours and workshops taking place from the 26th-27th, Startup@Brown gave students a crash course in entrepreneurship. Blog checked it out to see just what exactly startup culture is all about, and whether its correspondent’s idea for a chain of nightclubs inside giant floating zeppelins could make it to an initial seed round.

The conference opened with a keynote by Eveline Buchatskiy, director at Techstars Boston, on the general path of beginning a startup, and was followed by lunch and the general startup fair. At the fair, roughly 20 startups and startup-related firms gathered to speak with students and recruit potential candidates for internships and jobs.

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The Startup Fair

The general atmosphere was one of enthusiasm. According to Jason Miller, a representative from data software firm Cloudera, “the fact that [Startup@Brown] was selective was really special. It was branded well, and it makes sense why the companies you invited are here.” Miller also emphasized the extent to which Brown alums and students are enmeshed within startup culture across the country. At Cloudera, “two of the core engineers went to Brown, and about almost a third of our entire data science department is Brown-educated.”

This recurrent theme — Brown’s close relationship with the technology industry and startup culture — often helped make the event feel like less of a professional networking event and more of a gathering of friends and former fellow students united by an interest in entrepreneurship. Brown student and Startup@Brown attendee Hans Wang ’17, a CS and Economics dual concentrator, noted that he’d “seen a lot of former TAs here with the companies.”

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Career Fair 2015: How I lost my swag, but still brought home swag

For the past two years, I’ve been infamous for stealing the giveaways from the career fairs. How can you steal something that’s free, you may ask? Well, the freebies are usually intended for students who are interested in working for these companies. I have notoriously shown zero interest in getting a job, and that is why the majority of employers at this fair hate me.

Alas, now I am nearing the end of my life–adulthood–and I need a summer internship. I had originally planned to attend this year’s career fair in all seriousness and instead of just documenting all the goodies I brought home, I would document all of the rejection I experienced. It did not go as planned. Well, the rejection part went as expected, but I still got a lot of free stuff.

My dear readers, I promise, I tried to change. I dressed business casual even though it was a fruitless gesture under my winter coat and scarf. I printed out FOUR resumes because I heard that’s something you’re supposed to do. Unfortunately, desperation works in strange ways. There were only so many times I could cheerfully ask tech companies if they were interested in a blogger with no applicable skills! Enough with my excuses. Without further ado, here is the haul for 2015:

The toys

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IXL is one of those companies where a writer could initially think they are a good fit before realizing that the representatives at the fair were only recruiting website builders (much like the table for the New York Times). Shrouded in disappointment, I couldn’t say no to a compressible frisbee. Or dominoes. Speaking of, did you know there are rules for dominoes? I always thought the tiles were more of a décor statement.

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Ethical Inquiry: The Ethics of Job Choice

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At around noon every Thursday, the smell of curry and steaming plates of rice wafts out of Wilson 101. While Kabob and Curry may be the incentive for some, in reality, most come for the discussion–vibrant, student-led, philosophical, discursive and oh-so-very Brown. The room was tightly packed with newcomers and regulars alike. I arrived at 12:05 and much to my chagrin, there was a dearth of Kabob and Curry. A regular told me, “You gotta get here at 11:50 for that.”

“Ethical Inquiries” are hosted weekly by the Philosophy DUG on a wide variety of topics, including the ethics of hip-hop discussion last month. This week’s topic hit particularly close to home, especially for juniors and seniors who are all attempting to escape the inevitable question, “what are you going to do post-grad?”

The discussion aimed to ask slightly more (but only slightly) unanswerable questions:

1. What ethical considerations should there be when choosing a career?

2. Do we have a duty to leave the world better than (or as good as) it was when we entered it?

3. What does our choice of career say about our idea of the ‘good life’?

After a short introduction by members of the Philosophy DUG, we were off. The discussion began in a typical liberal arts fashion, with a member of the group answering question #2 with a decisive, “Locke would say, yes, we do,” citing his belief that while you can take some things and claim them as private property, you cannot take so much that would prohibit access to those same things for others.

The commenter also invoked notions of intergenerational justice, the idea that if you are to act rationally, you need to leave the world a better place than it was when you found it because you would want the same done to you. In other words, it’s the golden rule–on a macroscopic level.

But Locke’s credentials for making moral rules–and their application to employment ethics–were quickly contested when someone pointed out that “Locke was also a slave trader.” It was the first acknowledgement of what was to become the ultimate dilemma identified throughout the conversation: lofty ideals vs. practicality and one’s actions.

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BrownConnect and what it means for your job search

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If you haven’t read President Paxson’s email or The Herald‘s article about it yet, the BrownConnect website officially launched today. The site, which was proposed as a part of President Paxson’s strategic plan, is designed to give students the best opportunities possible in order to build on their education during the summer. Whether that means an internship in San Francisco or research on College Hill, there’s now a single place for freshmen, sophomores, and juniors to consult in order to help them navigate through what can be a very stressful process.

BrownConnect’s design will certainly help its cause. After logging in like you would to any other Brown website (Canvas, the JIB, etc.), you will see a crisp red, gray, and brown home page with portals for both current students and alumni. I wonder where they got the color scheme from? Anyway, once you enter the student side of the site, you can search directly for internships, alumni connections, and funding opportunities. Alternatively, you could take a look at one of the featured positions below the search bar.

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PollerBears: Winter Break 2013

And the band played on.

Congrats! You finished exams, saw some friends (maybe), and then chugged some nondenominational eggnog! Now what? Brown misses you, and we know you all miss Brown, but home does have its creature comforts. Tell BlogDH your favorite winter break pastime in our last poll of the year.

What are you most excited about for winter break?

  • Hanging out with my two BFFs: Netflix and my bed (44%, 184 Votes)
  • SLEEP (26%, 110 Votes)
  • Making an extensive reading list but spending the next hour Facebook stalking instead #FOMO (18%, 73 Votes)
  • Excited? I never want to write another cover letter (10%, 40 Votes)
  • Learn to ski/snowboard (read: hopefully not die) (2%, 9 Votes)

Total Voters: 416

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Useless Rankings: Brown ranked eighth on list of “highest paid grads”

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This is one useless ranking I can be down with. Brown tied with Stanford and Harvard (whatever) on PayScale.com’s list of highest paid graduates, averaging a starting salary of $52,300 and a mid-career salary of $119,000. While CNN implied that we’re essentially a bunch of sell-outs (“more than a third of graduates end up roaming the halls of Corporate America”), it’s worth noting that 51% of grads believe their jobs are meaningful. Those are good odds, right? So perk up, humanities concentrators, we got this!

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